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Director of Zoological Operations

Loveland Living Planet Aquarium
Draper, United States Posted: May 25, 2024

The Director of Zoological Operations is responsible for the day-to-day operations and strategy for all aspects of the teams responsible for animal care, Exhibitry, and environmental quality. Come work with a passionate team of experts in the fields of animal care, life support, horticulture, and dive operations, to help steer our team towards an institutional vision to inspire guests and foster stewardship of the environment and life on earth.

Institutional Summary:   
  • Loveland Living Planet Aquarium provides learning opportunities for all levels, interests, and ages, with the mission to inspire people to explore, discover, and learn about Earth’s diverse ecosystems since 1997.
  • Since opening its new facility in Draper in March 2014, the Aquarium has welcomed over eight million visitors and provided more than 650,000 educational experiences to students.
  • Home to more than 4,000 animals representing 650 species, the Aquarium showcases ecosystems from around the planet including kelp forests, coral reefs, the deep ocean, Antarctic waters, Asian cloud forests, South American rain forests, and the waterways of our home state of Utah.
  • Loveland Living Planet Aquarium has been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) since 2019. With a new expansion currently under construction and slated for completion in late 2024, LLPA will soon be the largest aquarium in the Mountain West, and 5th largest aquarium overall in the continental United States.
Essential Duties/ Responsibilities: 
  •  Reports directly to the Vice President of Zoological Operations and manages a high-performing team of more than sixty animal care specialists, horticulturists, life support technicians, and dive operators.
  • Serve as a positive leader, through proactive communication, timely feedback, staff development, efficient use of departmental resources, and careful prioritization of institutional goals.
  •  Model a leadership style that fosters an atmosphere of inclusion, teamwork, and safety, and demonstrates the Aquarium's values (Integrity, Thirst for Learning, Commitment to Excellence, Stewardship & Conservation, Leadership & Growth, Fun!)
  •  Directly oversees and supports Curatorial Team (Birds and Mammals, Ambassador Programs, Freshwater and Quarantine, Saltwater) and other Zoo Ops managers (Life Support, Horticulture, Dive Operations).
  •  Responsible for the consistency and quality of all aspects of care for the Aquarium's living collection including: health, welfare, nutrition, sustainability of populations, training and enrichment, environmental quality, and exhibitry.
  •  Responsible for collaboratively maximizing impact of Aquarium resources in pursuit of fulfilling the Aquarium's mission to inspire, through meaningful curation of the institutional collection plan, including: regular review of extant collection, acquisitions/dispositions, strategic planning, research and development, conservation impact, and interdepartmental synergy.
  •  Responsible for facilitating compliance with all local, state, federal, and other regulatory guidelines and standards, including but not limited to: USDA APHIS, USFWS, UT DNR, AZA, OSHA, ASUS
  •  Using objective metrics, provide oversight and implementation of departmental activities and institutional initiatives, such as: departmental administration, operational integrity, capital and annual project development, budget management, and staff development and culture.
  •  Responsible for oversight of all spaces, equipment, and infrastructure related to zoological operations. Works closely with institutional colleagues to ensure proactive maintenance and development of new projects to meet animal care and exhibitry goals.
  •  Responsible for oversight of departmental best practices through audits and inspections, drills, curation of departmental SOPs, compliance with safety protocols, and adherence to institutional policies and standards.
  •  Serve as subject matter expert in providing insight on construction, habitat and facility design and maintenance of modern zoological practices in animal keeping and husbandry, under the philosophies established by the Aquarium's leadership team.
  •  Responsible for representing the Aquarium in the field of animal care, overseeing the institution's AZA Animal Management programs, participating in the larger AZA community, and developing and maintaining relationship with other animal care, science, and conservation-based entities in support of the Aquarium's mission.
Experience and Qualifications:   
  • Four-year degree in zoological or biological sciences. Candidates with a suitable combined equivalent of education and experience will be considered.
  • Eight (8) years of direct experience caring for and training some combination of the following taxa: birds, herptiles, big cats, otters and other medium non-hoof stock non-primate mammals, teleost fish, elasmobranchs.
  • Five (5) years of experience serving in a supervisory role at a curator level or above at an AZA zoological or aquarium institution, with responsibility for staff recruitment, team culture, budget, and high-level collection management.
Critical Skills/Competencies: 
  • Exceptional interpersonal and verbal and written communication skills including presentation skills, and the ability to listen actively by summarizing, asking clarifying questions, and interpreting.
  • Demonstrated commitment to expertise in areas of animal care including training, welfare and wellbeing, husbandry technical competency, Exhibitry, research, or reproduction.
  • Demonstrated leadership acumen in management and supervision of a large, diverse, and passionate team of zoological science experts.
  • Demonstrated experience in departmental administration, including budgetary oversight, project development and management, strategic planning, and interdisciplinary collaboration.
Physical Demands of the Job:   
  • This position requires periods of standing and walking as well as extended periods of sitting with technology systems and reporting. The role will primarily be within an attraction environment.
  • Must be able to function effectively in a variety of exhibit and non-exhibit settings. This may include wading, walking on wet floors, and outdoor work under variety of conditions: cold weather, hot weather, high humidity, rain, mud.
  • Considerable physical exertion, such as walking, bending, stooping and climbing of ladders may be required.
  • Lifting of heavy objects (up to 50 pounds) on a frequent basis.
  • Hours and availability: This is a salaried position calculated at 40 hours per week; Position will share in providing on-call support for after-hours emergencies, weekends, and holiday coverage.
  • While this job description attempts to describe the essential functions of the position, it does not prescribe or restrict the tasks that may be assigned.
  • It does not restrict management’s right to assign or reassign duties or responsibilities to this job at any time.
  • The overall work environment while performing this job includes exposure to weather conditions and the noise level is usually moderate.
  • The employee is expected to adhere to all policies and to act as a role model in the adherence to the policies.

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